10 Best Towns to Visit in Southern Spain

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When thinking about southern Spain, you always picture sunny beaches, Flamenco dancers, and stunning Pueblos Blancos (white towns). You’re not wrong, but there is so much more to see in this region that you may become overwhelmed with where to go in Andalusia. Andalusia incorporates both seaside towns and UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves. There is no question that the Costa del Sol is a place you will want to visit again and again. If you don’t know where to start, here are my top 10 towns to visit in Andalusia.

Málaga

Centre Pompidou Malaga Spain

There are a few airports that you can fly into in Costa del Sol but if you want to get to the heart of the action, fly into the Mediterranean city of Málaga. In 2019 almost 20 million passengers went through Málaga–Costa del Sol Airport (AGP). Malaga has over 30 museums and brands itself as the ‘City of Museums’. They include a satelite of the Paris’ Centre Pompidou, Picasso Museum, Fashion and Automobile Museum and other fine art and contemporary museums.

Málaga

Malaga Spain Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO
Malaga Spain Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO.

Málaga has amazing shopping and a very walkable downtown and the surrounding tourist cities are easily accessible on public transport with fast, modern trains. We commuted from Torremolinos to the Málaga city centre in less than 30 minutes. The Airport is a short 15-minute ride and at 1,80 € (in August 2022) is your cheapest option.

Mija

Mijas Spain Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO 1
Mijas Spain Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO

Sure thing! Here’s a revised version:

“Visiting Mijas in the Costa del Sol is a must on any itinerary. As you wander through its streets, you’ll first notice the sea of white buildings, shops, and churches that define this quintessential ‘pueblo blanco’. Initially appearing devoid of color, a closer look reveals a delightful array of vibrant decorations adorning the facades. It’s a unique blend of simplicity and vibrancy that makes Mijas a standout destination in southern Spain.”

Mija

Mijas Spain Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO 2
Mijas Spain Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO

Take a leisurely stroll through the picturesque streets adorned with colorful flower pots, and you’ll stumble upon charming art galleries and artisan workshops showcasing local craftsmanship. In Mijas, find the quirky Museo de Miniaturas, which houses an impressive collection of tiny marvels – something for everyone.

Marbella

Marbella Spain Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO 1
Marbella Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO

Where the wealthy Spaniards come to play, Marbella in Spain’s Costa del Sol has buckets of charm and luxury in equal measure. From its busy beaches and world-class resorts to its picturesque Old Town with its winding cobblestone streets, Marbella will captivate you with its Mediterranean allure. Head to the glamorous Puerto Banús marina, where luxury yachts and designer boutiques abound.

Marbella

Marbella Spain Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO 2
Marbella Spain Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO

With a reputation as a party town for both the rich and the not-so-wealthy, Marbella has a long boardwalk and various accommodation options for any visitor. It is a bustling tourist town easily accessible by train and bus service from Malaga.

Take in the breathtaking views from the historic Moorish walls of Castillo de Marbella, or immerse yourself in the lush greenery of Parque de la Alameda (Alameda Park), a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city with a beautiful fountain built in 1792.

Ronda

Parador Ronda overlooking el Tejo Gorge Ronda Spain @DownshiftingPRO 1
Parador-Ronda-overlooking-el-Tejo-Gorge-Ronda-Spain-@DownshiftingPRO

A mountaintop town between two natural parks, Sierra de las Nieves and Sierra de Grazalema. Perched atop  El Tajo, a 100 m deep gorge divides the city into two parts: the new town – circa-15th – and the old town – dating to Moorish rule. The Puente Nuevo (b.1751) is a stone bridge spanning the gorge with killer views and the most recognizable bridge in Spain!

Ronda

Ronda Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO
Ronda Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO.

In the new town, the legendary 18th bullring is located in the Plaza de Toros, Carrera Espinel (shopping esplanade), and Plaza del Socorro. For spectacular views and a cool cokctail vist the luxurious Parmadore. Sit on the terrace overlooking the gorge and the valley below.

The old town is a very walkable area with several memorable stops. You can read more about our two days in Ronda on DownshiftingPRO.com.

Jerez de la Frontera

Jerez de la Frontera Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO
Jerez de la Frontera Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO

Forty-five minutes from the Atlantic Ocean, Jerez de la Frontera is not known for its beaches but for its love of horses and Jerez, its world-famous fortified wine we know as sherry. This is a remarkable town and merits a stop as one of the towns to visit in Souther Spain. You will want to enjoy a glass of Jerez with some traditional  Jamón Iberico or other Spanish culinary delights.

Jerez de la Frontera

Jerez de La Frontera Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO 1
Jerez de La Frontera Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO

If you are lucky enough to be in Spain during Holy Week, you will find a processional in most cities. On this trip, they were returning the statue of the Virgin Mary back to the cathedral. The pomp and ceremony, the music and chanting was delightful and such a surprise!

Cadiz

Cadiz - Spain - First European City - Towns to visit in Andalucía

In the heart of Andalusia, Cadiz stands as a living testament to Spain’s maritime legacy. With a history dating back over 3,000 years, this ancient port city has witnessed the rise and fall of empires, making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe. As you wander through its labyrinthine streets, you’ll encounter a fascinating blend of Moorish, Phoenician, and Roman influences, reflected in its historic landmarks and charming architecture.

Cadiz

Cadiz Spain Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO. 1
Park in Downtown Cadiz Spain Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO

Uncover Cadiz’s heritage through its iconic attractions: the awe-inspiring Cádiz Cathedral, offering panoramic vistas; Torre Tavira’s enchanting camera obscura, revealing the city’s past; and Mercado Central de Abastos, a bustling marketplace brimming with Andalusian flavors.

Seville

Plaza de Espagna Sevilla Photo Credit Carlosobriganti via Depositphotos 1
Plaza de Espana Sevilla Photo Credit Carlosobriganti via Depositphotos

In Seville, the iconic Catedral de Santa María de la Sede, with its majestic Giralda Tower, stands as a testament to the city’s rich history. But beyond its storied landmarks, Seville is a vibrant hub of modern life and excitement, where the old and new seamlessly intertwine.

Seville

Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballeria de Sevilla Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO 1
Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO

What truly makes Seville special is its love for celebration. Whether it’s the solemn Semana Santa processions or the lively rhythms of flamenco, there’s always something to revel in. And let’s not forget the delicious tapas, a culinary adventure waiting in every corner. In Seville, every moment is a chance to soak in the essence of Spanish culture, making it a city you won’t soon forget.

Cordoba

Cordoba Spain Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO. 1
Cordoba Spain Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO

The history of La Mezquita in Cordoba is long and complicated. Originally, an ancient Visigothic church when the Moors invaded southern Spain it became a huge mosque in the middle ages. After the Reconquista in the 12th century, the Spaniards and the Roman Catholic Church reclaimed it and built an impressive cathedral in the middle of the mosque.

Cordoba

Cordoba Spain Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO
Cordoba Spain Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO

The Historic Centre of Cordoba (with the La Mezquita as the jewel in the crown) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It reflects thousands of years of occupation by different cultural groups – Roman, Visigoth, Islam, Judaism and Christian-, that all left a mark.

Valencia

Valencia Spain Photo Credit © The Tourism Institute of Spain TURESPANA
Valencia Spain Photo Credit: The-Tourism-Institute-of-Spain-TURESPANA

Nestled on Spain’s sunny eastern coast, Valencia is a captivating blend of ancient charm and modern flair. Famous for its delectable paella, this vibrant city invites visitors to savor its rich history, stroll its picturesque streets, and soak in the breathtaking Mediterranean views.

Valencia

Valencia Festival Photo Credit Valencia Tourism
Valencia Festival Photo-Credit Valencia-Tourism

In Valencia, the Las Fallas Festival is a vibrant celebration where colorful floats and effigies, crafted from wood and paper mache, parade through the streets. These intricate creations, representing various themes, are eventually set ablaze at the festival’s end. Similar in importance to Castells of Catalonia, Las Fallas is recognized by UNESCO; the festival features 800 monuments across the city, offering a lively and unforgettable experience for all.

Granada

Granada Spain Photo Credit © The Tourism Institute of Spain TURESPANA
Granada Spain Photo Credit: The-Tourism-Institute-of-Spain-TURESPANA

In Granada, amid its many wonders, there’s one palace that captivates above all: The Alhambra. It is one of the most famous monuments of Islamic architecture and one of the best-preserved palaces of the historic Islamic world; it also contains notable examples of Spanish Renaissance architecture.

Granada

Alahambra Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO
Alahambra Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this complex of palaces, gardens, monuments, and citadel. The construction began in 1238 by the first Nasrid emir but was later expanded after the reconcista in 1492 and again under Charles in 1526

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Photo Credit Granada Spain DownshiftingPRO
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Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for DownshiftingPRO.com and other online media outlets.